Porter says it needs the agreement amended to allow the runway to be extended by 168 meters (550 ft.) into the water at each end. This would still be “within the current marine boundary,” says an airline spokesman, and would extend the runway from its current 4,000 ft. to around 5,000 ft. This would better suit the smallest CSeries, which Bombardier already plans to certify to fly steep approaches into London City Airport, which has a 4,950-ft. runway.
Porter says it will also require specific regulations to allow use of the CSeries at Billy Bishop. The noise abatement regulations were modified once, in 1985, to allow the operation of de Havilland Canada Dash 8 regional turboprops. This paved the way for Porter to begin operations there in 1996 with the quieter Bombardier Q400 70-seat turboprop.
The noise footprint of the CS100 will be “very comparable to the Q400,” says the Porter spokesman, adding the average of the twin-turboprop's takeoff, sideline and approach noise is 85 db. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofans, the CS100 will average 85.7 db, he says, “which is 6% below the [noise limit set by] the tripartite agreement.”
Approval to operate the CSeries from Billy Bishop is crucial to Porter, which has grown by virtue of its near-monopoly on access to the downtown airport. In 2010, Air Canada was awarded 30 slots and Continental (now United) Airlines 16, but Porter has almost 160 and last year carried 2.45 million passengers and averaged a 64.3% load factor on its fleet of 26 Q400s.
The airline seems to have no Plan B to open a CSeries hub elsewhere if Toronto's downtown airport remains stubbornly closed to jets. “It is our hub. We have made a significant investment in Toronto City Airport and that is what our focus is on right now,” the airline's spokesman says. Flying from the same airports on the same routes as Air Canada and WestJet would expose Porter to brutal competition “with only flying an advanced aircraft like the CSeries to differentiate them,” says Doerksen.
AW&ST Editor-in-Chief Joseph C. Anselmo saw a CSeries model in Porter Airlines livery in CEO Robert Deluce's office in 2010 and asked him about it.
Tap the icon in the digital edition of AW&ST to read Deluce's response in Anselmo's profile of the airline, or go to AviationWeek.com/porter